The Jo Cox Foundation has signed an open letter to governments, along with the Uyghur Human Rights Project and 21 genocide and atrocity prevention organizations from 5 countries, and 16 senior experts, expressing grave concern that crimes against humanity and genocide are taking place against Uyghurs in East Turkistan.
The international community must uphold its responsibility to take action through diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, irrespective of label that might be applied. The letter states, “The atrocities being perpetrated are no less egregious if they are found to constitute one international crime or another.” The atrocities cited in the letter include mass arbitrary detention, political indoctrination, enforced disappearances, destruction of cultural sites, forced labour, and policies intended to reduce birth rates, including involuntary abortions and sterilizations. This is genocide. Article II of the UN Genocide Convention prohibits “imposing measures intended to prevent births” within a targeted group.
We recently made a Joint Submission to the Integrated Review of International Policy from the UK Atrocity Prevention Working Group, urging the United Kingdom to build upon its rhetorical commitment to prevent atrocities, learn the lessons of past genocides, and uphold the collective responsibility to protect.
Doing more to help prevent mass atrocities should not be a contentious agenda. Successive UK governments have reiterated their commitment to help prevent mass atrocities. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a state which aspires to global leadership, Britain can and must do more to narrow the gaps between the commitments it has made on the world stage on this agenda and their practical implementation. For those concerned with Britain’s declining global influence, “doing more” on atrocity prevention has been identified as a specific contribution capable of ‘demonstrating the value of the United Kingdom in international forums.’
As Whitehall prepares to merge DfID with the FCO, the UK has a rare moment to learn from mistakes it made in Myanmar –and before it in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Bosnia, and Rwanda – and embed a national strategy of atrocity prevention in the heart of British policy. Read Dr Kate Ferguson’s blog on what the UK can do to Help Protect the Uyghurs.